Today I gave out my first, second, and third detentions as a teacher. At the beginning of the school year (last week) I started each class and explained that I do have some expectations, and that there are certain consequences for certain behaviors, but I said that I didn’t think I would ever have to give anyone a letter home or a detention. Well, today, all of that changed, because two of my high schoolers skipped my class yesterday. Now, this is not a personal thing, it’s just that the whole school suffers if some kids are allowed to skip while others routinely come to class. I feel somewhat silly handing out detentions for people not attending class, because as an ex-college-student I know that most places of higher education allow an infinite number of unexplained absences, and as long as you get your work done you’re okay. So I feel kind of silly as a 23 year-old requiring this of 18 year-olds. But I also feel triumphant. As a teacher, it is of utmost importance that you have control of your classroom, if not for the learning environment, for your own sanity. Teaching can be a noble thing, but usually it is more like war, and today I won a great historic battle. (The third detention, if you’re wondering, was for an eighth grader who, after having been warned yesterday and today not to disrupt anyone’s speech, decided to snap a rubber band against his neighbor’s arm right in the middle ofanother person’s speech. All clichés aside, it is quite funny what kids believe they can get away with. I’ve been there. Now I’m here. Teachers really do know everything. Everything they wish to know, anyway)
I think the detention issue wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I wasn’t the first teacher in the entire school this year to give out detentions, and if my Bible class lesson for the last period of the day wasn’t about the “fall of man” and how actions have consequences. It was actually quite creepy, something you couldn’t plan. The eighth grader who I gave the detention to was in that 7th period class, and I was trying very hard not to make eye contact with him while saying that the Hebrew scriptures teach that it’s important to make responsible choices. Kind of awkward.
It is a pretty good Friday, though, and a three day weekend on top of that. The Rwandan national elections are Monday, and in Rwanda election day is a holiday (holy day?). So Amy and I and our two housemates are going to head up the country a bit, try to stay in bungalows at the foot of the volcanoes. People say it’s cold up there, to the extent that there are fireplaces in the rooms. Fireplaces! In Africa! I’m very excited. We will take lots of pictures and report back upon our return.